WNBA Fantasy Primer: Stock Watch, Injuries and Trends

WNBA Fantasy Primer: Stock Watch, Injuries and Trends

This article is part of our WNBA Fantasy Primer series.

WNBA Fantasy Basketball Update

The second season of Fantasy Women's Basketball on ESPN has begun, and there have been several changes in the league's landscape over the first two and a half weeks of the year. Rookie of the Year candidate Diamond Miller is dealing with an injury, while the shorthanded Sky have also had several players step up to help the team get off to a solid start in 2023. Subscribers can use the Discussion section to ask for league-specific advice.

Stock Watch

Risers

Alanna Smith, F, Sky: Smith had a muted role over her first four years in the WNBA, but she's taken on a larger role under coach James Wade during her first season with the Sky. She had a solid season debut off the bench, and she's served as a starter in her last four appearances with Morgan Bertsch out due to an ankle injury, averaging 10.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 rebounds in 30.5 minutes per game. Smith can be somewhat inconsistent on the scoreboard, but her production in other areas gives her plenty of fantasy value.

Tiffany Mitchell, G, Lynx: Mitchell came off the bench in the first two seasons but has operated as a fill-in starter over the past five matchups. She's been a consistent contributor as a starter, averaging 13.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 32.8 minutes per game. The Lynx are playing without Diamond Miller, and Lindsay Allen has shifted to a bench role, so Mitchell will likely have an opportunity to maintain a starting job for the time being.

Jordin Canada, G, Sparks: The Sparks have been playing without newly-acquired Jasmine Thomas early in the season while she works her way back from a torn ACL, and Canada has stepped up in Thomas' absence. Canada has produced on both ends of the court, averaging 10.3 points, 5.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 30.0 minutes per game. She demonstrated the ability to provide consistent fantasy value last year, and while her role could change once Thomas returns, Canada is at least a solid fantasy option in her absence.

Dorka Juhasz, F, Lynx: Juhasz averaged just 9.0 minutes per game while coming off the bench in her first five appearances of the season, but she's taken on a starting role with Diamond Miller out and has seen plenty of playing time during her two starts. As a starter, Juhasz has averaged 7.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in 35.5 minutes per game. She's still adjusting to the WNBA level, but the 16th overall pick from the 2023 WNBA Draft should continue to grow as long as she has ample playing time.

Veronica Burton, G, Wings: Burton came off the bench in 30 of her 36 appearances last year, but she's started the Wings' first six games in 2023. She has enough well-rounded production to make her a consistent fantasy option, and she's been especially productive over the past three matchups, averaging 6.7 points, 6.3 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals in 32.0 minutes per game. 

Fallers

Aerial Powers, F, Lynx: Powers had a prominent role for the Lynx last year but has had limited playing time early in 2023. After starting in 31 of 35 appearances last season, she's come off the bench in the first seven games of the 2023 campaign and has averaged just 5.4 points and 2.1 rebounds in 9.9 minutes per game. Even as Minnesota deals with several injuries, it doesn't appear as Powers will have much fantasy relevance early this year.

Brianna Turner, F, Mercury: Although Turner has started two of the first four matchups of the season, her role has been limited compared to the production she's had in recent years. She's averaging just 0.8 points and 7.5 rebounds in 24.0 minutes per game, a significant decrease from her averages of 4.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 33.4 minutes per game in 2022. While she's proven to have the talent to be a solid fantasy option in previous seasons, she doesn't have as much relevance this year.

Betnijah Laney, F, Liberty: Laney had a prominent role during her first year in New York in 2021, but she missed most of last year after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. Although she's fully healthy to begin the 2023 campaign, it isn't very surprising that her role has decreased this year since the Liberty made several significant acquisitions during the offseason. She's averaging just 7.7 points and 3.0 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per game to begin the year, and it's possible there are some players available in fantasy leagues with more upside than Laney at this point.

Zia Cooke, G, Sparks: Cooke's WNBA career got off to a hot start when she posted 14 points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal in 14.8 minutes per game during the Sparks' regular-season opener against Phoenix, but she hasn't been able to replicate her results in subsequent games. The South Carolina product may have some games in which she provides bursts of fantasy value, but her production in recent games suggests that her stat line from her professional debut may be an anomaly.

Maddy Siegrist, F, Wings: Siegrist was among the best collegiate players at Villanova and was selected by the Wings with the third overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft. The Wings are dealing with several injuries, but Siegrist hasn't seen much of an increase in production as a result. Over her first six WNBA appearances, she's averaged just 2.0 points in 6.5 minutes per game. While her talent was on full display in college, it doesn't appear she'll have the same impact early in her rookie season.

Injury/Absence Implications

Note: Updated injury and absence information throughout the week can be found on RotoWire's WNBA Injury Report page.

Atlanta Dream: Danielle Robinson sustained a knee injury during Atlanta's regular-season injury that required surgery, but the team hopes she'll return before the All-Star break in July. Haley Jones has seen a slight increase in playing time with Robinson out.

Chicago Sky: Isabelle Harrison underwent surgery on her left meniscus before the regular season and doesn't have a return timetable, which has led to a prominent role for Elizabeth WilliamsRebekah Gardner had a relatively sizable bench role early this year, but she sustained a foot injury in late May and underwent surgery to address a break. It's unclear when she'll be able to return, but Dana Evans has picked up some increased minutes in her absence. Morgan Bertsch began the year as a starter but sustained an ankle injury against Washington in late May and has missed the past four games. She's expected to miss 1-2 more weeks, which should allow Alanna SmithSika Kone and Robyn Parks to continue seeing increased run. Kristine Anigwe also left the team Sunday to participate in the 2023 FIBA Women's Eurobasket.

Dallas Wings: Diamond DeShields and Lou Lopez Senechal have been out to begin the season due to knee injuries and don't yet have timetables to return. Teaira McCowan recently dealt with a short-term injury, and she'll miss most of June while participating in the 2023 FIBA Women's Eurobasket.

Los Angeles Sparks: Jasmine Thomas was traded from Connecticut to Los Angeles during the offseason, but she continues to rehab from a torn ACL and hasn't yet made her season debut, which has led to increased roles for Jordin Canada and Layshia Clarendon. However, the Sparks will likely get a boost Tuesday against the Storm since Azura Stevens is on track to make her season debut. Her return could lead to slightly less run for Chiney Ogwumike and Dearica Hamby.

Minnesota Lynx: Diamond Miller sustained an ankle injury in late May and is set to be re-evaluated in the coming weeks, a significant blow for the 2023 No. 2 overall pick. Fellow rookie Dorka Juhasz has seen a significant uptick in playing time with Miller sidelined.

Phoenix Mercury: Shey Peddy recently made her season debut but is set to have her minutes monitored for the next 4-5 games. Once she's back to full availability, Sug Sutton and Moriah Jefferson could see slightly less playing time.

Washington Mystics: Myisha Hines-Allen missed the start of the 2023 campaign following a knee procedure, but she made her season debut Sunday. While she played just eight minutes against the Lynx, Tianna Hawkins could see fewer minutes with Hines-Allen back on the court.

Lineup Trends

Note: Projected lineups and up-to-the-minute lineup confirmations can be found on RotoWire's WNBA Daily Lineups page.

Indiana Fever: Victoria Vivians started the first two games of the season but missed the next two matchups with an ankle injury. While she returned to the court Sunday, Lexie Hull remained in the starting lineup for a third consecutive game.

Phoenix Mercury: Brianna Turner and Michaela Onyenwere have split starting duties in recent matchups, with Turner drawing the most recent start Friday against the Sparks.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason
Jason joined RotoWire in 2019. In 2023, he was named the FSWA Player Notes Writer of the Year. In addition to RotoWire, Jason writes for the Sports Broadcast Journal. In 2024, he was dubbed "The Polish Parlay" for his WNBA hot betting streak.
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